Categorized | Featured Articles, HR

Grow your own talent

Why you should hire for attitude, train for skills

By Greg Crabtree

Your newest hire has worked for their first 30 days and while looking back at their great resume and 15 years of experience, all you can think is, “Does he really have 15 years of experience or just one year of experience 15 times?”

Sometimes hiring someone with experience means they are competent in only one area instead of many. Since they also had “years” of experience, they demanded a premium pay that bore a poor relationship to profitability. This type of experience is why you to have to make “you have to love training” one of your core values.

Instead of just passing on the cost to your clients by paying too much for labor, solve the problem a different way. By growing your own talent, you would be able to keep access to your services more affordable and fulfill your company’s mission.

Taking the steps

The first step is to identify which core areas you need your employees to be competent in. For instance, a CPA firm may need it to be personal tax, business tax, accounting system implementation, financial statement preparation and forecast modeling.

The next step is to identify the personality characteristics you need and screen your candidates for those characteristics. If you need an outgoing personality for your customer service, be sure to hire someone with a friendly disposition. If you need someone who is extremely organized, ask questions that would provide you some insight as to how they organize.

Some companies offer a test (for a fee) you can use such as Caliper ( After your candidate takes the test, you get an email with basic results within 24 hours, a call from their consultant to discuss the results and a written report with even greater detail findings within three days.

Once you hire your employee, schedule the work for them to stretch but not break them. One way to achieve this is to employ a 70/20/10 training philosophy, which is 10% classroom, 20% one-on-one mentoring and 70% “throw you off the deep end of the pool to see what you can do.”

Until you throw them off the deep end of the pool, you won’t know what they really can do! You are not going to let them “drown,” but this technique lets you know what they are capable of and what limits you can expect, and then you can train them for how you want things done.

Making improvements

When you add an expensive person with narrow experience, you may get some growth but not much in the way of profit since he or she cannot be used for more than one service offering and may be resistant to expanding his or her skill set. When that employee leaves, either by your choice or theirs, the crazy cycle starts all over again.

When you hire an employee based on personality characteristics, however, you get an employee that will be with you for a while and more than likely become one of your top performers. Going from turning over two staff members a year to turning over two staff members in, say, seven years is a much better statistic. There will always be plenty of new business opportunities; your only bottleneck will be how quickly you can add the right people.

Hire for attitude, train for skills—it really works!

Greg Crabtree has worked in the financial industry for more than 30 years. He founded Crabtree, Rowe & Berger, PC, a CPA firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build the economic engine of their business. Crabtree leads the business consulting team, helping clients align their financial goals with their profit model and their core business values. He is the author of “Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!” He can be reached through

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